An Open Letter to
Developing Country Governments
We believe that the G33 and other alliances of developing and least developed countries should stand its ground under current circumstances when the SP/SSM proposals are being attacked particularly by developed countries.
A lot of discussions during the WTO General Council meeting on October 10, 2006 pointed to increasing pressure on developing countries to be more "flexible" on the SP/SSM proposal. The World Bank recently published its report on the implications of special products on poverty in low-income countries that is obviously a campaign strategy against the SP/SSM proposal of developing countries in the WTO. All these lead to possible blame-shifting from the US/EU to developing countries in the ongoing efforts to resume the WTO negotiations.
Peasant groups, farmers' networks and civil society organizations from all over the world believe that the rise of the G33 and other developing/or Southern country alliances within the WTO is a welcome move.
We are calling on our respective governments to continue to protect the welfare and livelihood of family farms and small agricultural stakeholders.
We call on our agriculture negotiators to remain firm and united in advocating for food security, livelihood security and rural development and hold their fort on the maximum position on SP/SSM.
Specifically, we are counting on you to consistentl push for SPs' exemptions from tariff reduction and TRQ commitments and for these products to be accorded with SSM protection.
We urge the G33 states to involve family farmers and small agricultural stakeholders, especially women, in the process of selecting which products should be accorded SP status, in defining the treatment for these products and in firming up concrete mechanisms for the adoption and implementation of SSM. The participation of the various stakeholders in these processes will help ensure that SP and SSM mechanisms mirror the interest of constituents of agriculture in developing countries.
We agree that the indicators to be developed should be based on the general criteria of food security, livelihood security and rural development needs of developing countries. However, these indicators should look into the qualitative rather than the quantitative significance of particular products or sectors to a country's economy and society.
Relatedly, indicators should not be limited to national or macro-based figures but into the importance of a product at a regional or local level.
Finally, these indicators should reflect the gender differential impact of trade.
We caution our governments against putting SP/SSM on the line to get concessions in other negotiating areas, such as NAMA and GATS. If anything, SP/SSM are overdue and partial compensatory mechanisms to address the basic inequalities of the Uruguay Round Agreement and the devastating consequences of the Agreement on the lives of small farmers.
We also urge you to integrate SP/SSM as inherent components of regional and bi-lateral trade agreements to ensure coherent agriculture policy scheme that would promote genuine national interest in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.
We ask you to listen to and support the sectors strategic to your food security and sovereignty, livelihood and rural development concerns. Your support will ensure that trade policies contribute to the upliftment, rather than the marginalization of your small farmers and fishers, rural women and agricultural workers.
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka(PAKISAMA)
Action for Economic Reforms (Philippines)
Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE)
Management and Organizational Development for Empowerment (MODE)
Food Sovereignty Watch - Mindanao Philippines
Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF)
Philippine NGO Coalition for Food Sovereignty and Fair Trade (PNLC)
OXFAM GB Philippines
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat of Social Action, Justics and Peace/ CARITAS Philippines
PhilDHRRA (Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas
Koalisi untuk Rakyat Kadaulatan Pangan (Peoples'Coalition for Food Sovereignty) - Indonesia
Southeast Asian Council for Food Security and Fair Trade (SEACON) (Malaysia-based)
International Gender and Trade Network (Asia/Geneva)
Asian Partnership forthe Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia (AsiadHRRA)
Asian Farmers' Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)(Regional Organization)
OAKLAND INSTITUTE- (US-BASED)
Centre for Trade and Development (CENTAD) New Delhi, India
Friends of the Earth-Malaysia
Consumer Association of Penang (Malaysia)
Economic Justice & Development Org (EJAD)(Islamabad-Pakistan)
Asia Pacific Research Network
Arup Rahee, LOKOJ INSTITUTE, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Krishan Bir Chaudhary, Executive Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, (Farmers' Forum India) New Delhi, INDIA
Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC-Cambodia)
Shahid Zia, Executive Director, Lok Sanjh, Wasim Wagha
Indigenous Peoples of Indus & Tribal of Suleiman Mountains
DAMAAN Development Organization
Institute for Global Justice (IGJ), Jl. Diponegoro 9, Jakarta 10310, Indonesia
ACTION AID INTERNATIONAL
Canadian Food Grains Bank
Third World Network (TWN)
Justice, Peace and Integrity of the Creation" of the Missionaries of Afrika
Humanitarian Group for Social Development (Lebanon)